Category Archives: Garden Advice

Pumpkin & Squash Recipes Perfect for Fall

When you harvest your winter squash and pumpkins, sometimes the actual size of your harvest can come as a bit of shock. These prolific plants are excellent at hiding even more produce under their large leaves than you thought was possible. Thankfully, if you properly cure them, they’ll keep for months. Plus, there are so many fun ways to use them. Here are some of our favorite pumpkin and winter squash recipes perfect for this time of year. 

Dehydrated Pumpkin Pie Leather Roll-Ups

Ever wish you could take pumpkin pie on the go? These Pumpkin Pie Roll-Ups Colleen shared on her blog Grow Forage Cook Ferment are the perfect fall snack. They’re sweet even though they’re sugar-free. If you’ve got a dehydrator, give these a try.

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

Who doesn’t love a big stack of waffles on a cool, crisp morning? Adding a bit of your pumpkin or winter squash with this Pumpkin Spice Waffle recipe makes them extra special for fall.

Chocolate Hazelnut Pumpkin Pie Truffles

These Chocolate Hazelnut Pumpkin Pie Truffles from Kathie of Homespun Seasonal Living are a great treat, even if you’re not an experienced candy maker or baker. These truffles are decadent yet straightforward and perfect for fall get-togethers. 

Moroccan Cushaw Salad

Cushaws are popular southern winter squashes that were commonly grown by enslaved people in the late 18th century. One of our favorite culinary historians, Micheal Twitty, shared a great recipe for Moroccan Cushaw Salad on his blog, Afroculinaria. 

Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin Butter is one of our favorite pumpkin recipes at Southern Exposure, and it’s surprisingly simple to make. While some people pressure can pumpkin butter, we use this easy recipe and store it in the refrigerator. 

Pumpkin Soup

Eva Kosmas Flores has tons of pumpkin and winter squash recipes that are as tasty as they are beautiful. If you’re looking for something to warm you up on a chilly fall day, we recommend her pumpkin soup recipe that she learned in Germany.

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls

These pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls are a delicious treat that pair perfectly with your morning cup of coffee or tea. They also make excellent gifts. 

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Last but not least, you can’t forget your furry friend! This Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treat recipe from Timber Creek Farm is perfect for including your pet in the fall festivities or gifting to a dog-loving friend. 

What’s your favorite pumpkin or winter squash recipe? Let us know if we missed any great ones on Facebook. 

6 Easy Steps to Saving Pumpkin Seeds

Not everyone is ready for fall, but for many gardeners, it’s officially pumpkin harvest season! Native Americans were the first people to save pumpkins seeds. They domesticated them over 9,000 years ago! They created the sweet, large pumpkins we’re familiar with today through their years of breeding and selection. 

Saving seed from your pumpkins is a great place to start if you’re new to seed saving or want to involve the kids. Their large seeds make them easy to work with. 

  1. Select a pumpkin.


    Pumpkins, winter squash, and other members of the cucurbit family cross readily. If the pumpkin was grown near other cucurbits, you might end up with fruits that look and taste entirely different next year! 

    This may be a fun experiment if you’re just interested in growing pumpkins for decor. However, if you’re growing pumpkins for eating like Winter Luxury, you may want to ensure that they weren’t crossed. Cucurbit crosses sometimes end up being bitter or even non-edible. 

    Check out our growing guide for more information on isolation.

    You also want to select a pumpkin that is fully ripe so that the seeds are fully mature. The pumpkin should have firm skin, and the vines should be dying back when you harvest.

  2. Scoop out the seeds.


    Slice your pumpkin in whatever was you’re planning to use it, whether that be for a jack o’ lantern or in halves or quarters for baking. Then scoop out the seeds. A large metal spoon can be helpful for this.

  3. Clean them. 


    Clean the seeds as best you can. Separate and compost any fleshy parts clinging to the seeds. Then give them a good rinse in a colander.
     
  4. Ferment them.


    Several types of seeds should be fermented before drying and storage. These include tomatoes, cucumbers, summer and winter squashes, and pumpkins. Some people think that this step is unnecessary; however, we recommend it for a couple of reasons. 

    Fermentation removes any bits of flesh you may have missed as well as the slimy coating on seeds. This will ensure better germination. Second, fermenting the seeds kills and soil-borne diseases or fungus that may be on them. This will help keep your garden and the gardens of anyone you share seeds with healthy.

    Place your pumpkin seeds in a jar and cover them with clean water. Cover loosely with a lid or just a towel. Make sure air can escape. Let them sit for 3 to 4 days, stirring them once a day. Add a bit more water if it begins to dry out.

    It’s okay if the mixture smells bad or you notice some mold growing on top. After three days, add more water and stir the mixture again. The viable seeds will sink while the pulp and bad seeds will float, and you can pour them off the top. Drain and rinse your viable seeds.

  5. Dry them.


    Lay the seeds on a towel to dry. Let them dry until they’re completely dry. This may take 5 to 7 days. If you store them before they’re fully dry they’ll mold and rot.

  6. Store them. 


    Store seeds in an airtight container in a cool dark place. Pumpkin seeds will remain viable for four years or more under the right conditions. 

    Learn how to do a germination test here.

Are you saving seeds this year? Tag us on Facebook or use the hashtag #southernexposureseed on Instagram to show us your projects.

10 Weird, Fun Historical Flower Facts

Flowers bring so much life and joy to our gardens. Many flower varieties have interesting and somewhat surprising histories. From revered medicinals to religious symbols, flowers have played a role in different cultures throughout the centuries. Here are a few of the unique ways people used flowers historically.

  1. Delphiniums are named after dolphins.

    Larkspurs or Delphiniums are a colorful favorite for cottage-style gardens. The name Delphinium originated with the ancient Greeks. It’s derived from the Greek word “Delphis,” which means dolphin. The Greeks thought that the flower bud resembled the shape of a dolphin’s nose. Do you see it?
  1. German Chamomile has been revered by many cultures.

    One of the few medicinal herbs still in everyday use, German Chamomile has been used and revered for centuries. We love it for its soothing, anti-inflammatory effects. The Egyptians dedicated it to their sun god, Ra. In Slovakia, you were supposed to bow to the plant when you came across it, and the Saxons believed it was one of the nine sacred herbs. 

  2. Morning Glories were once used in divination rituals.

     First cultivated by the Aztecs, Morning Glories were used for divination rituals. They made a preparation from the seeds, which contain d-lysergic acid amide, or LSA, which has similar effects to LSD. The seeds were ground and then filtered with water which was drunk to produce visions. They are still part of some shamans’ practices today.

    They also used it medicinally, and healers would take the brew to determine the cause of an illness. The seeds were ground into a paste with tobacco leaves and rubbed on affected body parts to treat pain.

  3. Hollyhocks signified outhouses.

    Now characteristic of quaint, cottage gardens these tall, long-blooming flowers once symbolized something different, outhouses. People planted hollyhocks to screen the view of outhouses while also signifying to guests where they were. The phrase “visit the hollyhocks” was a polite way of letting others know you needed to use the outhouse. 

  4. Petunias used to be lanky with small flowers that were either white and purple.

    Most of our modern Petunia varieties come from two species, Petunia axillaris and Petunia violacea that are native to South America. Breeders worldwide worked through the late 1800s and 1900s to breed larger, double, and more colorful flowers that bloomed for longer periods. In 1953 PanAmerican Seed introduced the first truly red petunia, a multiflora called ‘Comanche.’ The first yellow petunia was bred by Claude Hope and introduced in 1977 by Goldsmith Seeds. These and many other introductions have created all the petunias we know today.

  5. Job’s Tears were used to make beer in 3000 BC.

    Today we mainly grow Job’s Tears as an ornamental. They’re gorgeous in the flower garden, and their seeds make lovely, natural beads. Archeologists found their residue along with barley and other plants on pottery found at a Neolithic site in north-central China, indicating they were used to brew beer. 

  6. Marigolds were used to treat hiccups.

    The Aztecs cultivated marigolds for medicinal purposes and bred them for larger blooms. The De La Crus-Badiano Aztec Herbal of 1552 recorded that the Aztecs used marigolds for hiccups, being struck by lightning, or “for one who wishes to cross a river or water safely.”
  1. Bachelor’s Buttons were found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb.

    Archeologists found intact wreaths of Bachelor’s Buttons in the boy king King Tutankhamen’s tomb, including a wreath of Bachelor’s Buttons, olive leaves, and water lily petals around his head.

  2. Sunflowers became popular in Russia because their oil wasn’t banned for lent.

    While the Native Americans had been cultivating sunflowers for food, medicine, dye, and oil as far back as 3000 BCE, they weren’t brought to Russia until the turn of the 19th century.

    A diktat issued by the Russian Orthodox Church in the 18th century banned the consumption of foods made from various oils and fats during Lent. The list of banned foods omitted sunflower oil resulting in a boom of sunflower cultivation and the eventual breeding of the popular variety, ‘Mammoth Russian.’

  3. Zinnias used to be considered hard on the eyes.

    The Aztecs referred to zinnias as an eyesore. The Spanish agreed, calling them “mal de ojos” or evil eyes. At the time, zinnias were small with scraggly foliage and muddy orange or yellow flowers. Despite attempts by companies to sell seeds in the U.S. and Europe, they didn’t become a popular garden flower until the 1880s, when French horticulturists began experimenting with breeding zinnias.

Flowers have played important roles throughout history. These are just 10 of the unique ways they’ve been used. Have you heard any of these unusual flower facts?